It is “unscrupulous” to lift bans before all Australians with disabilities can be vaccinated, according to an investigation | Royal Commission for the Disabled


The Royal Commission on Disabilities says governments should not lift bans until all people with disabilities have had the “opportunity to be fully vaccinated” – even if states and territories reach the 70% threshold of full vaccination.

In a damning draft report on Monday morning, the Royal Commission found that the Federal Ministry of Health’s approach to vaccinating people with disabilities was “seriously flawed”.

People with disabilities who live in shared apartments or “group houses” were admitted in phase 1a of the introduction of the vaccine, but then tacitly “reduced” in favor of geriatric nurses.

The Commission is now concerned that people with disabilities will go unprotected as states like New South Wales and Victoria try to ease restrictions when 70% of the adult population are fully vaccinated next month.

“In our opinion, it would be extremely unfair, even unreasonable, if people with disabilities who have not been given the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by the threshold of 70% were denied the freedom to give people with full vaccination Are available. “Vaccinated”, it says in the report.

“The injustice will be exacerbated as soon as it is accepted – as it has to be – that increased freedoms for those who are fully vaccinated increase the risk of contracting Covid-19 for people who are not fully vaccinated.

“It is one thing when people who choose not to be vaccinated are denied these freedoms; it is quite a different matter when people who have been denied the possibility of a full vaccination are also denied these freedoms. “

The report said the federal government should “use its best efforts” to ensure that no state or territory “significantly relaxes restrictions” when the 70% threshold is reached, unless all people with disabilities “have” and appreciate that they have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated ”. .

The commission selected participants in the National Disability Insurance System (NDIS), people living in shelters for people with disabilities and people with intellectual disabilities as key groups. All active disability workers should also be fully vaccinated before the bans are lifted.

Government data shows that 66% of NDIS participants who lived in collective housing or “group houses” were fully vaccinated on September 26, while 57.3% of NDIS-screened workers had received two vaccinations.

Of all NDIS participants, not just those in shared apartments, 39.9% were fully vaccinated as of September 15.

The seven recommendations also included providing “adequate support” for people with intellectual disabilities to understand and access the vaccine, as well as improved counseling and communication with groups with disabilities.

It was estimated that nearly six in ten people who died in England last year had a disability, while another study found that people with learning disabilities were eight times more likely to die from Covid than the general population.

Guardian Australia reported on Saturday concerns that many people with disabilities in NSW will not be fully vaccinated if the state lifts home stays for people who have received two vaccinations.

When asked about the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Monday, NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian blamed the federal government. She did not announce any plans to delay the reopening.

“We have done everything we can within our state responsibility,” she said. “There are certain areas of responsibility that the Commonwealth has in relation to vaccines, but we have stepped in and done absolutely everything in our power to protect those most at risk within our jurisdiction and within our powers, and we will continue to do so. “.”

In January, the Federal Ministry of Health announced that people living in homes for the disabled would be admitted to phase 1a of the vaccine introduction plan, the royal commission said.

But in the first week of March the government “downgraded vaccinations for people in shelters for the disabled” to focus on vaccinations for elderly care.

The report said the government would not make this decision until Jan.

The Royal Commission held hearings in May at which many people with disabilities said they were “afraid and afraid of contracting Covid-19,” a situation made worse by poor government communication with the disability sector .

“While there were numerous factors that made vaccination hesitant in mid-2021, the uncertainty and confusion among some people with disabilities, including those at greatest risk of serious complications from Covid-19, and some disabled workers, may have contributed to vaccination reluctance.” ,” the report.

The royal commission said the government had failed to really consult with disabled stakeholders in drawing up the rollout plan.

This meant that the plan was drawn up without the government “recognizing or addressing” the challenges associated with giving the vaccine to people living in residential facilities with disabilities and their support workers.

As soon as the federal government reacts, the report will be finalized and presented to the governor general.

Federal Health Secretary Greg Hunt has been asked to comment.

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